San Antonio woman, 71, set to meet siblings for first time
DNA testing kit helps unite long-lost family
SAN ANTONIO – Earline Turner has been searching since 1962, the year her father, John Calvin Wright, died.
Earline never spent much time with Wright after he left when she was a child.
But one memory she holds on to to this day is the time he gave her a picture of her half-brother and half-sister.
"Just like one of those generic Sears pictures … a little boy and little girl," Turner said. "And Daddy wrote, 'This is your brother and sister.' He said Robin and John."
The year her father died, Earline’s stepfather, the man she also calls Daddy, took her to his funeral.
"I’m gonna cry," she said, recalling walking into a service full of strangers that quickly became family. "We went and we had a great visit and the first question I asked was, 'Is John and Robin here?' And they said no."
Wright’s relatives told Earline that Wright and the mother of John and Robin had a bitter divorce and that Wright had not kept in touch with his children.
"I think that probably started the search: 'Well, I’m gonna find them,'" Turner said.
Little did she know, John and Robin were states away and looking for Wright, their father, whom they didn't know had passed away.
Earline decided to search for her brother, John, thinking he might be easier to find since it was unlikely his last name had changed.
She combed through phone books for years, mailing hundreds of letters to anyone whose name matched.
She once wrote a letter to a national news correspondent she saw on TV named Robin Wright.
Of all the letters she sent, that was the only one that got a response.
"She wrote me a beautiful letter back to me saying, 'I have the same parents. They graduated from such-and-such college,'" Earline recalled. "She wished me great luck in my continued search, but at least I got an answer."
Years later, Earline started using the internet to search for her siblings through email and Facebook.
Her health began to decline and her search stalled until she eventually decided to end it, figuring she would never find John and Robin.
Earline’s daughter, Rhonda, bought her a DNA testing kit for Christmas in 2017. Earline said she didn't really want to use it, but she would for her daughter, why not?
"It came up with my cousin in Mesquite ... real close to Dallas. And I knew of that one," she said. "I had been in contact with them, so I didn't have any information there."
Earline would later be admitted to the hospital.
"I’ve never drank in my life, but my liver is giving out. I said, 'Dang, I should have enjoyed a few more margaritas,'" she said, laughing.
Keeping her humor handy through it all, Earline was released from the hospital and was at home resting when Rhonda got a phone call.
"She come running up the stairs the day I got home, crying, and said, 'Mom!' I thought somebody had died," Earline said. "She goes, 'I’ve got your brother on the line.' I said, 'Charles is on the phone?' because I have another brother. She said, 'No, John Calvin Wright, who you've been looking for.' I said, 'You're kidding!'"
John Wright had recently retired to North Carolina. He and his sister, Robin, had been searching for years for their father, who unbeknownst to them, had died all those years ago.
John decided to do one last search in his retirement and, somehow, came across that same Dallas-area cousin on Ancestry.com.
And the pieces began to fall into place.
"I shook. I mean, I cried," Earline said, recalling her first phone conversation with John. "I told him, 'Here I am at the end of my life and I now have a brother and sister I want to get to know, and Rhonda goes, 'You've got a lot of living left to do.' In fact, everybody said 'You got well that day. We saw a whole new burst of energy.'"
And now, she has new memories to add to the old ones she held onto all these years.
"It's just like, you know, there's a piece of you out there somewhere," said Earline.
John told Earline about her sister, Robin, who now lives in Tennessee.
As she lay in bed that night recalling the day's unbelievable events, she realized the date: It was her father’s birthday.
It's a realization that still gives her chills.
The three long-lost siblings then made a plan to meet in San Antonio.
Earline, John and Robin will meet in person for the first time Thursday and KSAT 12 will be there. Look for their incredible reunion Friday on KSAT 12 News at 5 p.m.
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